The bacterium Holospora obtusa is a macronuclear-specific symbiont of the ciliate Paramecium caudatum. H. obtusa-bearing paramecia could survive even after the cells were quickly heated from 25 °C to 35 °C. To determine whether infection with H. obtusa confers heat shock resistance on its host, we isolated genes homologous to the heat shock protein genes hsp60 and hsp70 from P. caudatum. The deduced amino acid sequences of both cDNAs were highly homologous to hsp family sequences from other eukaryotes. Competitive PCR showed that H. obtusa-free paramecia expressed only trace amounts of hsp60 and hsp70 mRNA at 25 °C, but that expression of hsp70 was enhanced immediately after the cells were transferred to 35 °C. H. obtusa-bearing paramecia expressed high levels of hsp70 mRNA even at 25 °C and the level was further enhanced when the cells were incubated at 35 °C. In contrast, the expression pattern of hsp60 mRNA was the same in H. obtusa-bearing as in H. obtusa-free paramecia. These results indicate that infection with its endosymbiont can confer a heat-shock resistant nature on its host cells.
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Vol. 50 • No. 4